Seal vs. Seel – Which Spelling Is Correct?

Are “Seal” and “Seel” synonyms? Those words sound the same, but we want to know if they have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably to convey the same message.

Let’s take a look at each word and find out how to use them properly, in a correct way.

Seal vs. Seel – Which Spelling Is Correct?

“Seal” and “Seel” aren’t synonyms. “Seal” can indicate the animal that lives in icy places, the device used to keep a container closed, or the special mark of someone in a position of authority. “Seel” is an obsolete word, that used to mean to close a bird’s eyes.

seal vs seel

Take a look at some examples below:

  • Arctic seals are adorable.
  • Arctic seels are adorable. (incorrect)


“Seal” is a word with a few different meanings. First, “Seal” is an animal, a mammal that lives in very cold places. Also, a “Seal” is an official mark on a document, that has legal value and has been approved to represent some sort of authority or position of power.

However, The Cambridge Dictionary adds another definition to the word “Seal”, which is: “a thin piece of material such as paper or plastic that covers the opening of a container and has to be broken to open the container and use the contents”.

All three definitions are acceptable and you can use “Seal” in all three contexts.

Let’s take a look at some good examples:

  1. Seals are my favorite animals.
  2. The envelope is sealed, and I don’t think we should open it.
  3. The seals are laying all over the harbor.
  4. The Saimaa ringed seal is the most endangered seal species.
  5. Sarah sealed the box.
  6. The package is sealed and ready to ship.
  7. The President’s seal was attached to the podium, right before the beginning of the remarks.


“Seel” is an archaic word that means to close the eyes of a bird by drawing threads through the eyelids. This meaning evolved to indicate closing up someone’s eyes but is not used anymore – at least not in a relevant fashion. “Seel” isn’t an alternate form for the word “Seal” and, in this context, is incorrect.

With all that in mind, is “Seel” a word, or not? The Cambridge Dictionary doesn’t acknowledge “Seel” as a word. But The Merriam-Webster Dictionary does, and it agrees with the definitions presented above.

Considering that “Seel” is a bit of a controversial word, let’s take a look at some examples that use it correctly and others that use it incorrectly.

  1. Seels are Lana’s favorite animals. (incorrect)
  2. Seals are Lana’s favorite animals.
  1. The seel was clear and indicated the origin of the box. (incorrect)
  2. The seel was clear and indicated the origin of the box.
  1. It’s not humane to seel bird’s eyes and it’s not an acceptable practice.
  2. Patrick seeled his father’s eyes after he passed away.

Sentences 1 and 3 show the word “Seel” being incorrectly used. Those sentences are followed by sentences 2 and 4, respectively, that provide a corrected version of the same incorrect sentences seen before.

Sentences 5 and 6 present “Seel” being correctly used. Keep in mind that this is an archaic word. Even when it’s correctly used, it’s not common and there are certainly more current ways to convey the same message.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of those forms is used more often, “Seal” or “Seel”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

seal vs seel usage

“Seal”, which is a word with so many meanings, is the form that appears more often. It makes perfect sense that it’d be used more frequently and pop up more than “Seel”.

After all, “Seel” is archaic and obsolete. Although it was used in the past, for the past century it hasn’t been a relevant word, that people use in their daily conversation.

Consequently, “Seal” remains trending and in use, while “Seel” rarely appears.

Final Thoughts

“Seal” is a word with many meanings. It can be an animal that lives in cold places, a paper or plastic that closes a container, or a special mark that belongs to a powerful person. “Seel” is archaic and not used anymore, and indicates to close a bird’s eyes.